|10/27/2021 3:27:00 PM|
Old Englewood Village Association Halloween Safewalk
Halloween celebrations are like birthdays; they tend to get scarier each year. This year doesn’t promise to be the exception. Between the pandemic concerns, the tricky social, political, and even family divisions, choosing to participate, or not, will be tougher than ever. The good news is that no matter what you choose, this year’s Hallowed Eve celebrations look to be alive and well.
With just a minor Internet search, I found dozens of local community events: The Fruitville Grove and Hunsader Farm Pumpkin Fests, the Trick-or-Treat and Halloween Fun for Kids event sponsored by the Friends of Oscar Scherer Park, Aquatic Halloween by Mote Marine, The Halloween Block Party in Lakewood Ranch, Nature Trail Trick-or-Treat at the Oscar Scherer State Park, Kids’ Costumes on Parade in downtown Venice, Trick-or-Treat by the Beach on Siesta Key Village, St. Armand’s Circle Tricks and Treats, Ghost Tours and Haunted Spots in downtown Sarasota, the Creepy History at Spanish Point and dozens of Englewood based events that include our very own, the Old Englewood Village Association’s (OEVA), Dearborn Street Safe Walk.
The point of that paragraph is to say that we should be thrilled to see so many community outreachers alive and well, despite the difficult year. In our county alone there must be hundreds — even thousands of neighborhoods, clubs, groups, and organizations making community engagement decisions that undoubtedly reference and apply the latest governmental guidance available to keep us all safe. We may not all agree with their choices, but we should applaud their community spirit.
Speaking of safety: First and foremost, from our Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; “Kids should be able to go trick-or-treating this Halloween with a couple of caveats,” said Rochelle Walensky, Director of the CDC. “If you’re able to be outdoors, absolutely.” Other CDC recommendations included parents and kids limiting their exposure to indoor crowds, noting that “I wouldn’t necessarily go to a crowded Halloween party, but I think that we should be able to let our kids go trick-or-treating in small groups.”
OEVA strongly recommends that each and every participant in the Safe Walk wear appropriate masks, maintain their social distancing and sanitize their hands regularly, per CDC guidelines. OEVA is also suggesting that each vendor of treats follow the same rules. If you, or anyone in your family, has a health or virus concern, please enjoy Halloween safely at home, or in another way.
Businesses and vendors: Did you know that on March 29, 2021, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed new legislation, Senate Bill 72, “that provides new liability protections to Florida businesses, health care providers, and other organizations from frivolous COVID-19-related claims? This is a unique liability protection law and one of the first of its kind in the nation and may be a model for other states.”
To be absolutely clear, OEVA understands and respects everyone’s choices. We, too, have been torn as an organization on whether to risk hosting a community event. Is it too early? How much will the insurance cost? Will the county permit the event? How many vendors will participate? What will the public turn out be? Beyond those logistical concerns was our awareness that our community remains divided. Some among us will remain critical of any community event in the current environment, while others are tired of what seems to be a never-ending public emergency.
There are also construction concerns. Despite the Herculean efforts of our agencies and contractors, the Halloween Safe Walk will be complicated this year. Parking isn’t going to be as easy as we had hoped. Sidewalks are in transition. Lighting, benches, even some intersections have changed. To counter those unknowns, the Safe Walk footprint may need to be narrowed down. Please stay tuned as those decisions are made.
In closing, most of us can remember our Halloweens of the past when Dearborn Street became a river of life that flowed for hours. As far as you could see, there were kids and parents in every costume you can imagine. Sarasota County officers rode bikes, even horses, adding to the festive vibes. Buckets of candy were collected; smiles were everywhere. It was a great age that we all know will return soon. Until then, OEVA thanks each and every business, vendors and participants for supporting our downtown and our Safe Walk.
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